I finished Unit 7 today, at last – I was beginning to think that I’d still be working on this unit in 2009! I know I keep comparing M257 to MT262, which is probably a bit unfair, but I found the animation section much easier to grasp in the latter. It’s not that animation is actually harder in Java than C++, as far as I can tell, it’s just that the way M257 handles the subject seems a bit disjointed.

That’s actually my only real complaint about this course, so far; the structure of the course material seems disjointed, choppy and erratic. The actual content of the unit books is great, but at times the structure makes it seem like the course was assembled using the cut-up technique.

So I think spending a few evenings with some online Java animation tutorials would probably be a good idea, to give me a firmer understanding than I’ve been able to get from the unit book itself. To be fair, M257 is great for encouraging the student to go away and explore the API documentation, and as far as I can tell we won’t be penalised for using techniques that aren’t explicitly mentioned in the course books (although I could be wrong, this is just the impression I’ve formed from reading the course forums). That’s one of the bits of learning a programming language that I enjoy the most – looking up one class or method, and stumbling across another fantastically useful one by accident.

Anyway, I’m determined to master animation in Java, because I want to replicate the awesomeness of the clunky little retro game I made for the final TMA of MT262, which I affectionately (and probably copyright-infringingly) called “Space Bowling”. Sorry, “Spaaaaaaace Boooooowling!”. It was just a simple ball game where the user could set the angle and speed of the ball before firing it at a grid of squares (in space!), but it was ridiculously fun to code and test. Now, ideally I’d like to do a game involving an animated Dalek, which would be drawn using the shapes available in Swing, but I think that might be a bit out of my league at the moment. So I’ll probably start with some kind of falling-blocks game. Maybe “Spaaaaace Blooooocks!”…

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